Yet you won’t always have the time or resources to build out a robust plan for every process, action, or workflow. In the case that you can’t create a plan from scratch, having pre-made project management templates on hand can be a useful safety net.
With templates for project management, you can dive into new projects or build out processes from an established blueprint. You don’t have to spend time crafting documentation or process guidelines as you can lean on existing frameworks.
When you work from a template, you can free up your time and energy to focus on the 80/20 of project management — that is to say, you can prioritize the most meaningful actions on your agenda that lead to the best outcomes.
You can also systematize the way you work with templates so everyone on the team understands their role and how they contribute to the project.
Want to get started right away? Use Wrike’s project management templates to ensure your next project gets off to the right start.
The importance of project management
Project management provides teams with a straightforward framework to follow, whether they’re tackling new tasks, collaborating with other departments, or managing resources.
By focusing on how you manage projects that land on your desk, you can develop a system that helps you build momentum and get everyone in your team on the same page.
Getting granular with work projects is important as you’re often faced with pressure from several sources:
- Time limits
- Budget constraints
- Client expectations
- Stakeholder opinion
Without a measured or considered approach to how you’ll tackle both major and minor projects, the risk of falling prey to pressure from any of these sources increases.
For example, without access to a dynamic timeline that you can adjust on the fly to account for shifts in scope or employee capacity, you might inadvertently pass an important deadline. Without resource management tools that let you allocate your budget accordingly, you could easily exceed your initial estimate.
In other words, proper project management — and the software you use for assistance — can help you turn the art of juggling tasks and projects into a science. Instead of relying on hunches and instincts, you can make data-driven decisions based on insights you glean from your methodology.
Project management can also be useful on the ground level. The oversight of projects to ensure you don’t miss deadlines or exceed a budget is important, but so too is the day-to-day management of individual productivity and operational efficiency.
Here are three ways you can use project management to get the most out of your team:
- Build and automate efficient workflows: With project management software, you can create workflows that make it easier for team members to define statuses and complete tasks. Once established, you can leverage automation to accelerate progress.
- Use Agile systems to boost productivity: Agile tools such as Kanban boards allow you to set your teams up for success. More than a simple way to tick tasks off your to-do list, Kanban boards limit work in progress for increased focus on key priorities and can also help create a team dynamic.
- View and analyze performance data: Using metrics such as the number of tasks completed, you can view individual and team performance. This data can inform new strategies and tactics to raise performance levels.
By developing systems, processes, and workflows you can better plan and execute your projects as a team. A little foresight goes a long way, and focusing on project management best practices can help support your strategic goals.
What is a project management template?
A project management template is usually a document or spreadsheet that provides a basic framework with guidance on how to complete a specific task or project.
Imagine you have to create a content calendar for the upcoming quarter, but you’re not sure where to start. Your head is full of ideas for articles, videos, and social media posts, yet you can’t figure out how to put it all together.
Instead of spending the best part of a day figuring out how best to design a content calendar, wouldn’t it make more sense to take a shortcut and save yourself valuable time?
Time is one of the most precious resources available in the workplace. If you commit yourself to activities that aren’t high priority, it could result in wasted energy and productivity. That’s why the best solution in this scenario would be to find a content calendar template that you can adapt to your needs.
With a pre-made content calendar template, all you have to do is plug in the relevant information. The template will provide you with labeled columns and rows, so all that’s left to do is put the ideas in your head into the spreadsheet.
The genius of a template is that you can use and discard it on a one-off basis or you can transform it into a series of guidance documents that you continue to use in the future. Either way, they’ll help you with the task at hand so you can focus your energy on what really matters.
Benefits of using project management templates
Project management templates can serve as a short-term remedy for dealing with new processes or unfamiliar projects, but they can also be integrated as part of your long-term strategy.
With the earlier example, we showed how you can use a template as an off-the-shelf solution to short-term issues to save you time, energy, and resources. In the long term, you can use the same templates to standardize the way you work across your team or department.
Let’s say you need a way of effectively budgeting for various types of projects. To solve this problem, you could take an existing budgeting template and adapt it to your team’s specific criteria.
Once you’ve molded the template into one that accommodates your team’s way of working, you can then turn it into a standardized template to use whenever you need to budget for a project. This can help you automate the process but also provides others in your team or department with a clear vision of how to budget for projects.
Build reliable systems
Sometimes in project management, there will be a lot of deliverables, expectations, and data up in the air at one time. Instead of juggling every piece of information crucial to the successful completion of the project, it’s better to have systems that cover all bases.
When you use templates to plug the gaps, you don’t have to worry that any individual element will be passed over or forgotten.
You can use templates to effectively track:
- Employee and team capacity
With a reliable system that factors all these elements into the project management process, you can be thorough with every project you take on.
Tracking deliverables and deadlines in real time gives you greater insight into overall progress, and affords you the oversight you need to manage resources and employee capacity and reduce the risk of going over budget or facing the problem of burnout.
Few would argue that you shouldn’t be using data to drive better decision making in your project management.
When you have a wealth of data at your disposal, you can make sure that you make incremental improvements with each subsequent project you take on. Learning from the past is one of the best ways to reliably and sustainably improve performance.
When you use project management templates, you can sit down after each project and discuss what went well and what didn’t using the framework. You can evaluate project management best practices and consider how you can do better the next time around.
Top 6 project plan templates
Now you’re familiar with project management templates and how they can help you with your day-to-day responsibilities, let’s take a look at some of the best free project management templates you can download and start using today.
1. Agile teamwork template
Working well together as a team is an important part of good project management, yet it can be hard to achieve.
With the rise of remote work, it can be even more challenging than ever before to build a close-knit team dynamic and encourage effective collaboration. That’s why your systems must promote best practices.
With the Agile teamwork template, you can foster a productive teamwork dynamic through:
- Powerful Agile sprints
- Global visibility into team activity
- Incoming request management and prioritization
2. Business continuity template
The business continuity template should be on most project managers’ radars as one of the most important tools for dealing with disruption.
With external events outside of your control — such as a global pandemic or supply chain issues — it can be easy to lose control within your team. When outside circumstances are affecting how you work in unfamiliar ways, you need a reliable way of adapting quickly.
The business continuity template provides just that: a contingency plan to help you keep operations online in emergency scenarios.
3. Content calendar template
A content calendar template can help you map out your content publishing schedule for the following month, quarter, or year.
Content marketing can be an integral part of any company’s growth strategy, so it’s important to make sure you have a clear publishing cadence and an idea of how you’ll distribute all of your content for the biggest impact.
4. Project schedule template
As any project manager will surely confirm, scheduling projects effectively can be one of the toughest challenges in project management.
There are many factors to consider, such as:
- Available budget
- Team member capacity
- Client and stakeholder expectations
- Other projects
It can be difficult to know how to plan out a project so as to avoid missed deadlines and milestones. The project schedule template can bring clarity to your project planning by reminding you of all elements to consider when laying the groundwork for upcoming projects.
5. RACI template
One of the most costly mistakes in project management is miscommunicating important information.
If you have team members who are unsure of their roles or responsibilities in the team, or who they should report to for support, it’s unlikely that everything will go according to plan.
The RACI template breaks projects down into the following matrix:
- Responsible: Who is responsible for completing a task
- Accountable: Who is accountable for the project
- Consulted: Who must be consulted
- Informed: Who should be informed about changes and progress
When you plot out a RACI matrix for your team, you can clear up any confusion surrounding roles and responsibilities.
6. Weekly to-do list template
Sometimes a simple approach to project management can pay dividends.
Using a weekly to-do list template can help you structure your short-term responsibilities and make sure you tackle high-priority actions consistently. It can also be a valuable resource for your team to stay on track with their own tasks.
Manage your projects better with Wrike templates
As discussed, one of the easiest ways to streamline your day-to-day operations and gain access to more data you can use to grow is to lean on Wrike templates.
With some of the free project management templates outlined above, you can make big changes to the way you work that have huge implications on your team productivity and performance levels. By implementing just a few templates for your next project, you can outsource some of the less meaningful tasks threatening to take up all your time and energy.
Project management software is essential for ensuring projects are completed within a certain timeframe and objectives are met. With Wrike, the entire project management process is a breeze.